It's an undeniable fact of life that people often feel uncomfortable talking about death. One of our chief purposes here is to give people the tools to overcome their apprehension and engage in dialogue about this delicate subject.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is a Rainbow Baby Shower?
- How to Word a Rainbow Baby Shower Invitation
- How to Honor Your Pregnancy or Infant Loss at a Rainbow Baby Shower
- Rainbow Baby Shower Decoration Ideas
- Rainbow Baby Shower Cake Message Ideas
- Rainbow Baby Shower Activity Ideas
Societal expectations tend to discourage conversations about death in general. So it should come as no surprise to learn that talking about a child's death has been considered downright taboo until quite recently. Talking openly about miscarriage has been similarly stigmatized. Many people feel isolated after experiencing a miscarriage because of this deeply-entrenched belief that it's off-limits as a topic of conversation.
According to the March of Dimes, 15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Statistically speaking, it's highly likely that you know at least one person who has had a miscarriage, even if they haven't shared this information with you. In recent years though, many brave individuals are breaking their silence and sharing their personal stories about child and pregnancy loss.
There are many ways you can show support to loved ones who have been open about their miscarriage journey. Today, we'll focus on one in particular: hosting a rainbow shower.
What Is a Rainbow Baby Shower?
If you've never heard the term rainbow baby defined, it refers to a baby born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of an infant. The grief and sadness a parent feels after a miscarriage can be likened to a storm.
Anguish can hang over your head in an oppressive cloud, and it's easy to believe that the darkness will never dissipate. A viable pregnancy after a miscarriage can feel like a light penetrating through the clouds, creating a beautiful rainbow in the wake of this storm.
The term rainbow baby seems to have originated in one of the stories included in the book ''Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories of Interrupting a Much-Wanted Pregnancy" by Christie Brooks. The phrase has since entered the greater lexicon thanks to its prevalent use online in parenting forums and blogs. A rainbow baby shower is held for parents expecting a rainbow baby.
Everyone reacts to pregnancy loss differently. You may be wondering, "Why can't I just throw a traditional baby shower?" In some cases, that will be perfectly fine. Some people who have experienced a miscarriage still want to celebrate all the typical milestones during their subsequent pregnancy.
For other people, pregnancy after miscarriage is a more emotionally-fraught experience. The anticipation and joy about expanding their family are often tempered by sadness for their prior loss and anxiety about potential pregnancy complications when planning a rainbow shower. It's important to account for the fact that the parents-to-be may be dealing with complex and conflicting emotions.
How to Word a Rainbow Baby Shower Invitation
Because rainbow baby showers can sometimes veer away from more standard celebrations, it’s important to prepare attendees ahead of time, so they know what to expect. For example, you wouldn’t want an uninformed guest to bring a greeting card for a first-time parent, as that might be a painful reminder of a past unsuccessful pregnancy.
If a guest is coping with a miscarriage, they may need to emotionally prepare themselves for this kind of environment. We’ve prepared a few examples to help you word your invitation as sensitively as possible. If you’re still struggling with what to say, you can also turn to some of these thoughtful quotes for inspiration:
- After every storm, there is a rainbow. Please join us as we celebrate the arrival of James and Sophie’s rainbow baby.
- Out of difficulties, we grow miracles. You’ve supported us through our most difficult days. Now, we ask you to join us as we welcome a long-awaited miracle into our family.
- While this shower is held in honor of Rebecca and Sam’s first earthbound baby, we will also honor her sister in heaven.
- “When we lose one blessing, another is most often unexpectedly given in its place.” - C.S. Lewis
How to Honor Your Pregnancy or Infant Loss at a Rainbow Baby Shower
When a child dies, it’s universally accepted that their parents will grieve profoundly. But many people don’t realize that miscarriages can wound expectant parents just as profoundly. Other people can connect with a child after birth, so their death may somehow feel more tangible.
A miscarriage can seem more abstract to outsiders, while parents feel more deeply connected to an unborn child. Because of this disconnect, parents may feel even more isolated in their grief.
While a rainbow baby shower is largely focused on welcoming a new life, many parents want to ensure that their past loss isn’t forgotten or overlooked. Taking a moment to acknowledge their loss may be helpful to their healing process. Here are some ways you can honor the loss of a child during a rainbow baby shower.
1. Present parents with a thoughtful gift
The purpose of a baby shower is to help parents make sure they have everything they need as they welcome a new baby. But while parents will undoubtedly feel grateful for these gifts, on some level, they may feel guilty that they didn’t get to celebrate an earlier pregnancy in the same way.
When you lose a child, you also lose the opportunity to share new experiences with them. Receiving a gift specifically intended to honor a past pregnancy loss can be incredibly cathartic.
Many people give names to the potential children that they have lost. If your loved ones called their child by a particular name, you could get it embroidered on a baby blanket as a sweet surprise. If you know what the due date would have been for a past unsuccessful pregnancy, you can incorporate that birthstone into a piece of memorial jewelry. Such a simple gesture can feel surprisingly meaningful.
2. Reveal a lasting gesture
Sometimes the best thing you can do for a parent after loss is to give them a space where they can grieve. Many cities allow you to dedicate park benches to people who have passed away. A memorial plaque often adorns these benches. Something like this helps parents feel that their child has left a lasting impact.
If you have a memorial forest near you, you can also have a tree planted in a child’s honor. The parents can visit this tree with their other children, and the family can see it grow over time.
Rainbow Baby Shower Decoration Ideas
When people plan a traditional baby shower, they often choose a theme and plan their decorations around that. There is, of course, one fairly obvious inspiration for a rainbow baby shower: a colorful rainbow theme. However, some people may find that theme a little too on the nose. Here are some alternative suggestions.
3. Fiery Phoenix
In mythology, a phoenix is an immortal bird that regenerates itself by bursting into flames and then rising from the ashes of its earlier incarnation — welcoming a child after a previous loss can feel similarly restorative. The phoenix can represent a new family rising from the ashes of what might have been. A phoenix-themed party lends itself well to a vibrant gender-neutral color scheme in shades of red, yellow, and orange.
4. Healing Waters
Fire and water are polar opposites, but they have something in common. Water is often seen as a symbol of rebirth. Additionally, water is often used ceremonially as a form of cleansing — baptisms are a great example of this. Use soothing and serene blue decor for a water-themed rainbow baby shower.
Rainbow Baby Shower Cake Message Ideas
No celebration is complete without cake. Generally speaking, a cake should be decorated in a way that ties into the party's theme. People often like to include a thoughtful message in the decor. Here are some examples.
5. “The sky is filled with shooting stars, and we’re so happy that you’re ours.”
This sweet rhyme alludes to the fact that other “stars” have shot by too quickly for parents to hold onto. This shining star has arrived at the perfect time.
6. “Worth the wait”
This message is short and simple, but it packs a big punch. All parents anxiously await the arrival of a new baby. But parents of rainbow babies have to wait just a little longer.
Rainbow Baby Shower Activity Ideas
Let’s be honest for a second: baby shower games and activities can get weird. A traditional baby shower might feature silly games, like “Pin the Pacifier On the Baby.” Let’s not even get into the chocolate diaper guessing game. These lighthearted activities may not be appropriate for a rainbow baby shower. Try these instead.
7. Set up a card station
People often struggle with speaking out loud about delicate subjects. Writing things down can help them organize their thoughts better. Have guests write cards to the expectant parents to express their best wishes on their upcoming journey. Let them know that it is okay — and even encouraged — to reference past losses.
They can also include any wisdom about raising children or share other personal thoughts. The parents can keep these cards for years to come and have a tangible reminder that so many people support them.
8. Release remembrance balloons
Releasing balloons into the sky is a popular way to memorialize someone, in large part because it’s so symbolic. It can represent the act of letting go of your grief. People also like to imagine that the balloons will float to heaven. Be sure to source biodegradable balloons to avoid harming the environment.
Love and Life After Loss
Rainbow baby showers are unique because they simultaneously serve as a celebration of new life, as well as an observation of loss and grief. There is no greater joy than the birth of a child. There is also no greater pain than the loss of a child.
With this being said, the most important function of a rainbow baby shower is to remind parents that they are not alone. Their friends and family have supported them through their darkest times, and they will continue to do so.